Intelligent Machines

Metal and Ceramic Origami Structures

A new printing and folding process could be used to make lightweight parts for planes.

Apr 15, 2010
The red cone at the top center of this image is a printhead used to make two-dimensional lattices of ceramic and metal inks. These lattices can be folded to create complex structures including cubes, spirals, and even an origami crane.
The printer (left) deposits ceramic and metal inks to create latticed sheets. At right are examples of planar patterns that can be made with this process.
This titanium hydride cube, shown under a scanning electron microscope before heating, was made by folding up a flat lattice.
This tube was made by rolling up a sheet of lattice-patterned titanium hydride ink. After heating, which removes solvents, a pure titanium metal structure is left behind. Such structures could be used in tissue engineering, since titanium is biocompatible.
This ceramic origami crane, made of titanium oxide and photographed after firing, demonstrates the versatility of the print-and-fold method.